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Archive for the ‘Armen Keteyian’ Category

Steroids Rules: Revisionist History, Revising the Present as It Passes and Revising the Future Before It Comes

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larussa.jpgFirst, let’s cut the bullshit talk out. All the, “Roid rage, his head grew, he’s so much bigger than last year,” etc etc. etc. ad nauseum, has to cease. Now.

All anyone is doing by parroting that talk is attempting to bullshit you, me, and anyone else who might be listening or watching. So, when you hear that come from someone’s mouth and they are alleged to be an insider or an expert – turn off to them. Stop listening because they are, at least – and I’m being ultra kind here, uninformed.

Sunday, on ESPN’s Outside the Lines show, Bob Ley narrated and moderated a solid segment on the history of the culture of steroids in Major League Baseball. The enigmatic former Cincinnati Reds and Florida marlins trainer, Larry Starr was interviewed. As he had in previous interviews for newspapers, Starr told of his experiences in trying to bring steroid abuse problems to the attention of MLB executives during the 1989 MLB Winter Meetings. He also talked of a player who gained 30 pounds of muscle in one winter – from 165 pounds to 195 pounds – and feeling at that moment that baseball had a “problem” with steroids.

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The Mitchell Investigation Aftermath: It’s Time to Get Religion

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nuns.jpgFormer Cincinnati Reds and Florida Marlins trainer Larry Starr tried to warn owners about the burgeoning steroid abuse epidemic in Major League Baseball at the Winter Meetings. Bud Selig was there, but he did nothing. You would think the MLB commissioner might heed the words of a man intertwined with player’s health. The only problem with Selig was that he was not the commissioner. He owned the Milwaukee Brewers at the time.

The year of Starr’s clarion call concerning MLB steroid abuse was 1988.

“Here’s the thing that really bothers me,” Starr said. “They sit there, meaning the commissioner’s office, Bud Selig and that group, and the players’ association, Don Fehr and that group . . . they sit there and say, ‘Well, now that we know that this happened we’re going to do something about it.’

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The Real Dope About Barry Bonds and Those Who Would Pursue Him: Part 2

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‘Roids.

Part one of this series provided a comprehensive overview of the raid on BALCO and how everyone from the IRS to Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams took advantage of the event to vilify Barry Bonds. Part two, below, describes how steroids came into the consciousness of the sporting world and exposes the often purposeful disinformation and misinformation by the sporting press and even Congress surrounding steroids and steroid-related issues.

The timing of the report that Barry Bonds tested positive last season for amphetamines is perfect, just a little more than a month before Major League Baseball takes its turn in the national spotlight; a little more than a month before the first voluntary report date for spring training.

Soon the nation’s eyes will be turned to one man – Barry Bonds. They will watch as the most hated man in sports will blast home run after home run and ultimately break what is deemed the most hallowed record in all of sports – Henry Aaron’s all-time home run record of 755.

This will be an awkward time as well. Sports reporters will struggle to wax poetic about a game that is no longer the apple of the nation’s eye; that distinction belongs to the National Football League. But they will, nonetheless lie and tell you that nothing else matters to America but baseball, never has, never will. Chevrolet will trot out its new baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet commercial as it has for the past decade, aiding in furthering the lie. ESPN Classic will turn its vault into a baseball mausoleum, showing endless games from the 70s and 80s. Games played on that awful creation called Astroturf. Games played in uniforms that should be grounds for arrest on the charge of “attempting to maim and disfigure the throwback fashion industry.” And they will tell us that this was the greatest of times before this season, which will be the greatest of times.

Except for the public having to watch Barry Bonds forever taint the sanctity of our hallowed stadium grounds paid for, largely, with our hard-earned tax dollars.

Barry Bonds, the walking Frankenstein. The sole creation of Victor Conte and a personal ego gone wild. A black man so insecure and so out of touch with a world in which racism no longer exists that he ranted like a lunatic at his good friend Ken Griffey. Jr. about a Great White Hope named Mark McGwire when he hit 73 home runs in 1998. They say – no, “they” don’t say, Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams say Bonds went into a maniacal rage at the mere mention of McGwire. Barry Bonds. Cheating on his black wife with a white woman and using his illicit relationship with her to launder money made from signing baseball cards. The white woman so beguiled Bonds that he told her his deepest secret, that it was steroids that caused him to have a season-ending elbow injury. Now one might think that because of his bad experience with steroids – career-threatening actually – that he might never use the stuff again. But not Bonds. The lure of more home runs. More women (though he couldn’t perform because of the ‘roids), and, of course, more money.

But the central figure of this tale shouldn’t be Bonds, not by a long stretch. The central figure of this tale should be the steroids themselves. Steroids are evil substances that make men’s’ testicles shrink and their breasts grow, and cause brain tumors, and cause otherwise healthy men to become brittle before their time.

Or so we’re led to believe. The following is a concise history of how steroids found their way into sport:

In 1954, a physician named John Ziegler (U.S.) attended the World Weightlifting Championships in Vienna, Austria, as the team’s doctor. The Soviets dominated the competition that year, easily breaking several world records and winning gold medals in legions of weight classes. According to anecdotal reports, Ziegler invited the Soviet´s team doctor to a bar and the doctor told him that that his lifters had used testosterone injections as part of their training programs. Whether that story is true or not, ultimately, the Americans returned from the World Championships that year and immediately began their efforts to defeat the Soviets using pharmaceutical enhancement.

As you may have expected, when they returned to the United States, the team doctor began administering straight testosterone to his weightlifters. He also got involved with Ciba, the large pharmaceutical firm, and attempted to synthesize a substance with strength enhancing effects comparable or better than testosterone’s. In 1956, Methandrostenolone was created, and given the name “Dianabol”.

In the following years, little pink Dianabol tablets found their way into many weightlifter’s training program, fast forward a few years, and in the early 1960s, there was a clear gap between Ziegler´s weightlifters and the rest of the country, and much less of one between them and the Soviets.

Though this story is in various forms repeated in myriad steroid histories, the beginning was actually much earlier:

In 1889, Charles-Eduoard Brown-Sequard injected himself with a concoction made from the mashed testicles of dogs and guinea pigs. The elixir, he reported, made him feel stronger and more alert, relieved his constipation and boosted the arc of his urine.

But let’s get back to modern use.

So Ziegler saw that Russian weightlifters were using steroids and wanted the U.S. team to have similar results. Pretty innocent so far. Under controlled usage the weightlifters Ziegler administered Dianabol to had spectacular improvement in their ability to lift and apparently no deleterious side effects:

Ziegler wasn’t just experimenting with steroids, new equipment and isometrics. He also dabbled in hypnosis and biorhythms as training tools for athletes. But over time, Dianabol proved to be the secret.

The results were so spectacular that by 1965, Ziegler wrote a letter to [York Barbell founder, Bob] Hoffman that said: “It is very, very possible that special training techniques and other devices along with greater physiological knowledge may enable man to achieve physical performances now considered SUPERHUMAN!”

Unfortunately for Ziegler, once weightlifters heard about this miracle drug, they, like far too many athletes, went overboard. What began as a controlled experiment in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania became the drug of choice, not only in the weightlifting community, but the general sports world:

“It grew from a few people and spread into other sports, March [the first weightlifter to whom Ziegler administered Dianabol] said.” Everybody used it to some extent. All the guys on the [weightlifting] team took Dianabol. It helped all of them. Anybody connected with the Barbell knew what was going on.”

As the Dianabol experiment grew, Ziegler would phone in prescriptions to Schultz’s Drug Store, which at the time was right around the corner from York Barbell’s original location.

The doctor’s orders were for 5 milligrams a day for lightweights, 10 milligrams a day for middleweights and 15 milligrams a day for heavyweights, with periodic medical checkups.

While March adhered to the program, he said others started forging Ziegler’s name on prescriptions to get more pills, and other doctors were sought to write prescriptions to get out from under Ziegler’s control.

“One thing led to another,” March said. “Some people figured if one pill helped, what would five do for you? They wanted faster results. Then they started selling it on the side. I’m not going to name names, but I knew what was going on. Guys got caught with their hand in the cookie jar.”

Added Smith: “For some guys, it’s never enough. If a little is good, a whole lot must be better. It started getting out of hand.”

What was Ziegler’s reaction to this abuse of Dianabol?

“What is it with these simple-minded [idiots]? If that’s what they’re going to do, I’ll write no more prescriptions.'”

There it is, the crux of the matter of steroids. Without proceeding any further, it can be readily understood that Dianabol itself was not the problem, it was that people abusing the drug. From here, steroids exploded into all sports. Weightlifters came from around the U.S. to visit Pittsburgh. U.S. weightlifters actively and knowingly used steroid in the Rome Olympic Games in 1960, and were commonplace by the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. President John F. Kennedy took Dianabol as part of his daily supplement routine. By 1963 steroids could be found in bowls on the San Diego Chargers’ training table. And there’s this:

By 1969, the magazine of The Athletic Congress, now known as USA Track and Field, called Dianabol the “breakfast of champions.”

John Ziegler is now less than a footnote in steroid history. And when his name arises it is mentioned as that of a demon. This is surely because of the unwillingness of the U. S. to admit its culpability in the rise of wide-spread steroid use and therefore its need to create a new history whole cloth out of lies.

Part of that fabricated history can be found in a 1983 Sports Illustrated article by Terry Todd which quotes Ziegler as saying the following:

“I decided to try the steroids and the isometric contractions on a few of the top U.S. lifters, but I wish to God now I’d never done it. I’d like to go back and take that whole chapter out of my life.”

But March, Ziegler’s first experimentee and close friend has this to say about Ziegler’s alleged quote:

“Ziegler wishes he would have never invented it? That’s an outright lie. He never said that.”

Oddly, this is the same Terry Todd, who in his 1978 book, Inside Powerlifting, wrote:

“Today, if I were to reenter competition, I would take them [steroids] again.”

So what is it about steroids that cause the liberal of politicians to shudder at the mere mention of the word and for sports pundits to suddenly become steroid experts and vilify the drug as a scourge on the general populace?

In part the answer lies in the rewriting of steroid history, in part the answer lies in the fact that steroids do have extremely negative effects on certain portions of the population. It is true that steroids taken as drugs to gain muscle mass can destroy the body of teenage boys. The same can be said for women of any age.

However, the same cannot be said for the demographic under news and sports media, and even Congressional scrutiny. The group under scrutiny is healthy males – professional athletes included – aged 25 and over. And this is precisely the group for which artificial testosterone and human growth hormone is the most beneficial. But why the lies?

In a nutshell, here’s how it went down:

It wasn’t just that using steroids was cheating — other factors came into play. “There’s a whole subset of the industry that’s very devoted to the record books,” says Rodney Fort, Washington State University professor of economics and author of Pay Dirt: The Business of Professional Team Sports. “These are everyone from the people who make baseball cards to the journalists who cover baseball. They believe you can’t argue about who’s the best batter ever if some of the best batters were on steroids. They’re a subset, but they’re an impactful and vocal subset, and when it came to steroids, they were almost unanimously against.”

This entire fracas meant that something had to be done, though what was actually done seems asinine until you remember the history of hallucinogens and exactly what became of Nixon’s war on drugs. “The organized-sports establishment decided they would solve the whole problem by educating the athletes,” wrote Rick Collins, one of our foremost authorities on performance-enhancing drugs and the law, in his book Legal Muscle: Anabolics in America. “They would present the facts to discourage competitive athletes from using steroids. The establishment devised a strategy: to convince competitive athletes that anabolic steroids don’t build muscle. But they needed a credible source through which to sell the message. It was decided that the American College of Sports Medicine would be the entity to spread the news, a bit like the ‘Ministry of Truth’ had the job of spreading false propaganda in George Orwell’s classic book about a totalitarian future, 1984.”

This wasn’t yet 1984, this was 1977, and the College of Sports Medicine took to issuing proclamations: “Steroids had no effect on lean muscle mass; the effects athletes were seeing were water retention; the effects athletes were seeing were the placebo effect.” These claims were propped up by what many consider to have been flawed studies. Nonetheless, they held sway until the real 1984, when there was so much anecdotal evidence to the contrary that the college finally had to admit that, yes, those 300-pound beasts playing left tackle could only have gotten to be 300-pound beasts with the help of anabolic steroids.

So they came up with a different approach — tell the athletes that steroids are bad for them. Make them sound horrible. As these things can go, they made them sound horrible enough that the media picked up the story (and ran with it and are running with it still). Then another fact came to light — high school kids were starting to use steroids. Saving our children fills war chests, and Congress couldn’t resist. In 1988, Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which made trafficking in steroids illegal, and a variety of subcommittees were formed to hear testimony about whether or not steroids should become a controlled substance. Among those who testified was Charles Yesalis, a professor of health and human development at Penn State and the world’s leading steroid authority at the time. “Steroids do have a medical use,” Yesalis testified. “From an epidemiologic point of view of the health dangers, I am much more concerned about heroin; I am much more concerned about cocaine; I am much more concerned about cigarettes than anabolic steroids.”

The American Medical Association, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Food and Drug Administration — the four regulatory agencies that are supposed to have control of the drug-scheduling process — all testified against turning steroids into a controlled substance. It didn’t matter. Senator Herbert Kohl spoke for many when he said, “Steroid users set an intolerable example for our nation’s youth.” At the time he was speaking, Senator Kohl also owned the Milwaukee Bucks.

In 1990, Congress passed the Anabolic Steroids Control Act.

In short, the government that extolled the virtues of steroids, criminalized steroids. And the people responsible for leading the charge? Major League Baseball sportswriters:

“Nobody has told this story from the beginning,” said [Pittsburgh attorney Jerry McDevitt] McDevitt of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart LLP. “The principle side effect of steroids is lying.”

Before 1990, though, there were two steroid incidents that allowed the American media to cry foul (and help push the Anabolic Steroids Act through Congress two years later?) and through sheer force decry steroid use as something akin to using crack cocaine. Those incidents were: 1988 Seoul Olympics 100-meter champion Ben Johnson of Canada testing positive for stanolozol – a steroid – at a time when American Olympian was being hailed by the U.S. press as the world’s greatest athlete and; one year following Johnson’s Seoul debacle Sports Illustrated published a lengthy article titled, “The Nightmare of Steroids” by Rick Telander. The story told the lurid tale of South Carolina football player Tommy Chaikin’s steroid abuse. The story, though well-founded because of its account of the effects of steroid abuse on young men under age 25, was wrongly used in the congressional hearings on anabolic steroids as a blanket indictment of steroids. Johnson was stripped of his gold medal, pilloried in the press and banned from track-and-field competition for two years. Lewis, who was handed the gold after Johnson’s positives test, began an anti-steroid crusade that put him at the forefront of the fight to ban steroids from all sports. However, like all stories surrounding this contentious subject, an unseemly truth lurked just under the surface of the lie being purported to the general public.

It turned out that Lewis and two of his training partners all tested positive for the same banned substances during the 1988 Olympics. The substance? Amphetamines. Lewis’ attorney, Martin Singer, said Lewis had done nothing wrong (of course) and that the drugs found were from an “herbal remedy.” There are no herbal remedies that contain pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine, all stimulants found in over-the-counter cold medications such as Day-Quil. The athletes had in them three times the recommended dosage for the medication.

Dr. Wade Exum was the former United States Olympic Committee (USOC) director of drug control from 1991 to 2000. Described as a disgruntled former employee of the USOC, in 2003 Exum released over 30,000 documents implicating over 100 American Olympic athletes to Sports Illustrated. Exum had actually filed a racial discrimination and wrongful termination suit (which was dismissed) against the USOC.

Information such as this is explosive in nature and can sell millions of magazines. Oddly (or maybe not so) Sports Illustrated downplayed the documents, relegating the information to a short 250-word piece in its “Scorecard” section.

The documents clearly show U.S. complicity in cheating the system and clearing athletes clearly in violation of the Olympic drug policy:

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s chairman, Dick Pound, dismissed the “no intent” defence. Mr Pound has seen copies of the documents and said that in some instances there was almost “automatic forgiveness” by the US officials.

Letters written by a US Olympic Committee executive, Baaron Pittenger, were sent advising some athletes of their positive drug-test results – and at the same time told them they were being cleared.

“It’s got to be pretty embarrassing to the USOC,” said Mr Pound, “to have their secretary-general writing in the letter, where he advises an athlete of a positive A sample, ‘I have to send you this, but we already decided this was inadvertent.’ That whole process turned into a joke.”

Furthermore it was reported that a U.S. athlete tested positive for steroids in 1999 but was allowed to compete in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The athlete in question won a gold medal:

The International Olympic Committee’s medical commission chairman, Arne Ljungqvist, said the Exum documents “fit a pattern” of failure to report on positive drug cases. But the USOC called Dr Exum’s accusations “baseless”.

Dr Exum said there were more than 100 positive tests for US athletes who won 19 Olympic medals between 1988 and 2000, but many were allowed to keep competing.

The Sports Illustrated article identifies some of the athletes who tested positive but were allowed to compete:

Carl Lewis. At the 1988 Olympic trials he tested positive three times for small amounts of banned stimulants found in cold medications: pseudoephedrine, ephedrine and phenylpropanolamine. After first disqualifying Lewis from the Olympics, the USOC accepted his appeal on the basis of inadvertent use. Lewis went on to win gold at Seoul in the 100 meters and long jump. Lewis could not be reached, but his longtime manager, Joe Douglas, said Lewis had not taken anything to enhance his performance.

Joe DeLoach. Lewis’s training partner won the 200 at the ’88 trials and tested positive for the same three stimulants as Lewis. He was excused for the same reason and then upset Lewis in the 200 to win gold in Seoul. DeLoach could not be reached for comment.

Andre Phillips. He tested positive for pseudoephedrine at the ’88 track trials, won an appeal and beat Edwin Moses in the 400-meter hurdles in Seoul. Phillips declined to comment to SI.

Mary Joe Fernandez. The pro tennis player tested positive for pseudoephedrine before the ’92 Olympics, was not disciplined and won gold and bronze medals at the Games. Reached by SI on Monday, Fernandez blamed the positive result on cold medication she had taken.

Alexi Lalas. In ’92 the soccer star was found to have an elevated ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, which can indicate steroid use. Nevertheless, Lalas was allowed to compete at the ’92 Olympics. Though Lalas could not be reached, his agent, Richard Motzkin, says the positive was “a onetime blip” not caused by steroid use.

Dave Schultz. The ’84 wrestling gold medalist tested positive for the stimulant phentermine in ’93. USA Wrestling issued a letter of reprimand but let him compete. Schultz was shot to death in ’96 by wrestling benefactor John du Pont.

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As if on cue, less than one year after the passing of the Anabolic Steroids Act. Sports Illustrated again came to the fore and published a “first-person” account of NFL defensive lineman Lyle Alzado’s steroid abuse. Alzado, dying of brain lymphoma, a rare brain cancer, blamed steroids for his condition. It was this comment in the SI piece that became the centerpiece for anti-steroid propagandists throughout America:

“I started taking anabolic steroids in 1969 and never stopped. It was addicting, mentally addicting. Now I’m sick, and I’m scared.”

Never mind that Alzado’s personal physician, admitted that steroids played no part in Alzado’s death. The press instead seized upon this remark by former drug advisor to the NFL, Dr. Forest Tenent, to make the case that steroids are a drug of certain death:

“With the levels of anabolic steroids that some of these guys are taking, I do not see how some of these fellows will not develop cancer,” Tennant said. “Alzado is not the first steroids-user to develop cancer. He’s just the first famous person. He’s a signal. He’s going to be the first in a long line of these people with cancer.”

Until ESPN and ESPN, The Magazine supplanted SI as the drug of choice for sports fans’ intake of sports news, Sports Illustrated was the agenda-setter in the world of sports. Today, the “worldwide leader in sports” continues the legacy set by SI for misinforming the public on the issue of steroids and related performance-enhancing drugs.

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Until September 3, 2003, the day of the BALCO raid, the sporting press only whispered the words steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. In 1998 ESPN helped Mark McGwire and to a lesser degree, Sammy Sosa, capture the attention of sports fans with their chase of Babe Ruth’s home run record. Sure, various publications including ESPN, The Magazine and Sports Illustrated sporadically addressed steroid abuse by athletes and particularly baseball players, there was no uproar about steroids until the BALCO raid. And when the pills hit the fan, the spray of shredded pharmaceuticals flew toward one man, Barry Bonds.

Yet a cursory check of recent baseball steroid mentions will bring up this fact:

“During an FBI investigation codenamed ‘Operation Equine’ in 1992, officers turned up steroid dealer, Curtis Wenslaff. Wenzlaff’s training-session notes show he put McGwire on a mix of Winstrol V, testosterone and Equipoise.”

And this from a 2005 article by Michael O’Keeffe, Christian Red, and T.J. Quinn of the New York Daily News:

The recipe called for 1/2 cc of testosterone cypionate every three days; one cc of testosterone enanthate per week; equipoise and winstrol v, 1/4 cc every three days, injected into the buttocks, one in one cheek, one in the other.

It was the cocktail of a hardcore steroids user, and it is one of the “arrays,” or steroid recipes, Mark McGwire used to become the biggest thing in baseball in the 1990s, sources have told the Daily News.

Long before Jose Canseco claimed he injected McGwire in the behind in his tell-all autobiography “Juiced,” the man known as Big Mac denied ever using illegal steroids. But according to FBI sources, McGwire’s name came up several times during “Operation Equine,” a landmark anabolic steroids investigation that led to 70 trafficking convictions in the early 1990s. No evidence against McGwire or any other steroid user was collected, and one former agent who worked undercover in the case says McGwire was not a target.

But two dealers caught in Operation Equine told the Daily News that a California man named Curtis Wenzlaff provided Canseco and McGwire, among others, with illegal anabolic steroids. One informant in the case says Wenzlaff injected McGwire at a gym in Southern California on several occasions, and established “arrays” of performance-enhancing drugs such as the aforementioned cocktail.

So it was known that Mark McGwire was implicated in a steroids scandal in1992. So many of the same baseball writers who were responsible for instigating the rabid anti-steroid craze were also responsible for covering up this extremely important information. This means luminaries like Baseball Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons of ESPN, Rick Telander of SI, Ira Berkow of the New York Times, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, and Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle, to name a very few, are complicit in the cover-up of this information concerning McGwire.

But still, what was the seminal study on steroids that allowed all these writers to have to hide McGwire’s steroid use from the public? Where was, or is it? Who conducted the study?

The answer? No long-term study describing the deleterious effects of steroids on healthy males aged 25 and over has ever been conducted. Never. None. Nothing of the sort exists.

This fact was brought to the attention of the general public by an HBO Real Sports segment called, The Contrarian View which aired June 21, 2005. The investigative reports was performed by Armen Keteyian, one of the sports writers once one of the leaders of the anti-steroid crew. In the segment Keteyian found out that there are no studies showing the negative effects of steroids on healthy males over 25. He found out that the only long-term study, one performed by Dr. Norm Fost, a pediatrics professor and medical ethics expert at the University of Wisconsin Med School, found that every male age 30 and above is potentially in need of artificially raising their testosterone level. Keteyian found that he’d been wrong about steroids all the time, a victim of hype and circumstance. By the end of the segment he felt compelled to apologize to the nation for writing misleading information on the subject of steroids for at least 15 years (download video here under the heading, 9.02.05).

Fost, in an interview in Steroid Law, discusses steroids and their potentially harmful effects:

RC (Rick Collins): So, there isn’t any scientific proof that the short-term changes that are common with intermittent steroid cycles are connected to heart disease?

NF (Norm Fost): Correct, and the cardiologists that I have talked with think that it’s unlikely that it would be. Many steroid risks have been wildly exaggerated or misstated in the press. Take the famous interview with Lyle Alzado, the NFL player who developed a brain tumor and claimed, “See? This is what happens when you use anabolic steroids for too long.” Nowhere in the article was there a single reference or scientific source for any connection between steroids and brain tumors, because there is none. These stories appear in the leading journalistic media, creating the false impression that the claims are somehow supported by scientific studies.

RC: Have the media fairly put the risks in perspective of other risks that athletes voluntarily assume?

NF: No, not at all. For example, playing in the NFL for three years or more risks an extremely high rate – 80 to 90% in one study – of permanent disability. That’s unfortunate, but it goes with the territory and nobody says this is a reason to ban professional football. It’s something that competent adults decide to do in exchange for the money, glory and pleasure that they get out of it. We don’t think, in America, that people’s liberty to take risks like that should be interfered with, just so long as they are not harming anyone else. Whatever the risks of steroids, even the most extravagant view of the risks isn’t remotely in that category in terms of potential for permanent disability or even death. There have been dozens of deaths attributed to playing football. I’m not aware of any football players who have died because of steroid use.

RC: What about critics who argue that the adverse effects of steroids won’t be seen or known for years, decades, or even generations?

NF: That’s an argument that can be made about any drug, any food, or any device that uses a new technology. It’s a reason why we have regulations; why we have an FDA that requires careful testing, and NIH funding for long-term studies. It’s a reason to do continuous monitoring of drugs’ effects, for having an adverse event reporting system, and for having people using these drugs under medical supervision. Everything has unknown risks. Steroids are no different. The mere fact that there are unknown risks is not a reason to prohibit something.

In a San Francisco Chronicle column by Joan Ryan about steroids hysteria Fost has this to say in the following passages:

“There’s mass hysteria [about steroids] because of sheer misinformation…”

“If baseball is so concerned about level playing fields, then why is George Steinbrenner’s (New York Yankees) payroll six times bigger than my Milwaukee Brewers’?…”One wonders, then, about all the beer ads at baseball parks. What kind of message does baseball’s celebration of beer send to teenagers? Unlike steroids, alcohol kills 75,000 people a year in the United States.

“Not only are players not screened for alcohol, it’s embraced and advertised,” Fost says. “Baseball is delighted to be in cahoots with the alcohol industry.”

Too bad Barry Bonds won’t be embraced and advertised during this momentous season for the sporting world.

It’s too bad Major League Baseball won’t treat Bonds the way it treats alcohol.